US firm MTI Micro Fuel Cells intends to be first to bring a fuel cell product to the market with a direct methanol-based device next year which will allow you to recharge a mobile phone seven times before it needs a top-up of methanol.
Albany, New York-based MTI Micro said that methanol-based fuel cells have been approved for use in aircraft by the aviation authorities in the UK, Canada and Japan and should be approved by the US Department of Transport this year.
“We see it as a universal charger,” Peng Lim, company CEO told Electronics Weekly, “there’s no more need to plug into the wall.”
The firm’s approach is to use a passive, direct methanol fuel cell. A feature of the technology, which is claimed to make it easier to manufacture, is the integration of the power module with the water conditioning system. This internal flow of water takes place without the need for any pumps, complicated re-circulation loops or other micro-plumbing tools.
Called Mobion, the device has demonstrated power of over 50mW/cm sq. while producing 1.4Wh/cc of energy from the fuel.
Lim reckons his company will be the first to get a consumer fuel cell product on the market. He believes MTI Micro is well ahead of rival developers Toshiba and NEC.
MTI Micro has also developed a methanol fuel cell to power mobile phones, but has no timescale for manufacturing it. Lim said that one millilitre of methanol in the mobile phone fuel cell delivers 1.5 hours of talk-time.